Women's Business Casual: Comfortable Yet Stylish Looks
Are you in a business casual wardrobe funk?
Or maybe you just scored your first big girl job, and the business casual dress code is making you a little nervous.
Well, we can definitely help you out.
Business casual not only doesn’t have to be boring, but it can be comfortable too. You don’t have to subject yourself to the same tired blouses and slacks or be worried you won’t feel comfortable in your own skin by wearing clothes in time with your company’s seemingly strict dress code.
We’ve done our due diligence and decided to reference some of our favorite staples that are not only stylish but comfortable in the workplace.
So check out the following as a guide for you to craft your ultra-fashionable and super comfortable wardrobe that will have people turning heads when you work at your office.
Because you deserve to feel stylish and comfortable no matter where you are, even at the office. When you feel your best, not only do you look your best, but your productivity will also go through the roof if it hasn’t already.
What Is Business Casual?
Everyone talks about business casual if they actually know what it is. Well, we are calling their bluff because we think even if people think they know, they have no idea what it really is.
Since it’s nice to have a refresher, let’s take a step back before we dive into our list and review what exactly qualifies as a business casual style:
- Skirts or slacks - This can include different types of skirts and slack styles, such as the pencil skirt or the wide-leg or pleated pants. The general rule about skirts and slacks is that skirts need not be above the knee and trousers should fit comfortably, hit right above the ankle, and are thick enough that you can not see through them.
- Shirts - Business casual blouses should be a blended assortment of cotton blouses and patterned shirts with a versatile section of various sleeve lengths, depending on what your company’s dress code policy is. You can also wear cotton, silk, or silk blend worn tops as well as a variety of lightweight sweaters in different colors to wear should Frank from Accounting decide to turn the air conditioner on during the middle of winter, again.
- Footwear - Closed-toed shoes are definitely the way to go, and you most certainly want to stay away from sandals unless your company dress policy states otherwise, since sandals can be worn like more formal footwear like heels and flats. Definitely don’t wear thong flip-flops.
- Jeans - Although this has been a downright no-no for ages, some companies are starting to let jeans slip into their business casual dress code as long as it is done tastefully. This means such jeans as a dark wash, boot-cut or straight leg jeans are becoming more and more acceptable. Jeans with holes and tears need to definitely stay home in your closet or drawers, though.
So, there is definitely a lot to take in when it comes to business causal guidelines, and it definitely sounds super strict at first.
But you don’t have to wear stuffy button-up long sleeve blouses with boring khaki slacks every day if you don’t want to.
We’ve got a couple of recommendations for you to use next time you go shopping for a new and improved business casual wardrobe.
The signature blazer is a powerhouse piece that can definitely amp up some more standard pieces as well as boost your overall presence with its formal look.
If you’re worried a blazer may make you look too stuffy or unapproachable, we have a couple of suggestions that will help you make it work for your own unique style:
- Try different cuts - Blazers don’t have to be cut and tailored to look like the one your dad wears. In fact, you can make them look more feminine by selecting blazers that have certain cuts. For example, don’t go with a blazer that has long, uncomfortable sleeves. Instead, looks with cinched three-quarters sleeve are great so that it can rest comfortably on your shoulder instead of being itchy or awkward on your skin. You can also get various sized lapels if you want a more subtle or exaggerated blazer look.
- Try them in different colors and patterns - You don’t have to stick to a gray or black blazer and think those are your only options out there. Thanks to the fashion industry, you can now get blazers in primary hues, prints such as herringbone, floral, and even the classic plaid. Selecting a couple of style varied blazers will give you ample opportunities to mix, match, and create custom outfits to wear to work.
See? Blazer’s definitely don’t have to be boring if you open yourself up to exploring the different patterns and styles you can find that showcase your own unique business casual style.
Having a designer tote bag is another way to gussy up your business casual style from drab to fab.
If you’re still carrying your old college backpack to work and haven’t updated your bag collection, it’s a good idea to do that ASAP.
Why? You’re missing amazing opportunities to create great business casual looks with a handbag accessory.
Some of our favorite tote bag styles for the office include:
- Suede or leather totes - These fashionable fabrics are not only durable and classic, but they make for great materials that can handle whatever you throw into your tote. And, since fabric like leather is always classy, no matter what type of tote you get, as long as it is leather, it’s going to look really great.
- Nylon - Not only is it super easy to clean and virtually waterproof, but it can also look almost as great as leather if it is taken care of properly. Nylon totes also often have what are called trolley sleeves, which are sleeves on a bag that slides over a luggage handle, enabling you to keep your bag balanced on your suitcases with wheels, such as a carry-on. Definitely a neat thing to have when you’re traveling for work or on the go between meetings and need all your bags close together.
- Canvas totes - if you’re looking for something a little more classic and clean, look no further than the canvas tote bag. With its signature canvas material, the canvas tote is not only comfortable to hold but can go with pretty much anything you pair it with. Plus, with slightly stretchable canvas fabric, it can withstand a lot of abuse from you cramping in various items all day long.
With all these options out there for you to choose from, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not looking into getting yourself a work tote.
They are also super trendy, too. And, they are starting to take the place of the traditional briefcase.
Totes don’t have to just be for shopping. You can make it work for you at the office too if you just give it a shot.
The classic and formal clutch has been a consistent fashion feature for generations now, even in business casual.
However, most people are still in the dark about these classy bag accessories because they think they can only be used for certain occasions and then locked up in their closets, forgotten until they remember they have a wedding or holiday party to go to.
Well, we’re here to set things straight about the clutch bag and you can definitely use it for your business casual look, and we’ve got reasons to back up why:
- Forces you to travel light - When at the office, having to bounce from meeting to meeting and then to lunch and then back to meetings, it’s hard to carry all your personal items along with you (especially for security reasons if you work in an office space where you can’t secure your belongings). Instead of lugging all of your stuff around, carry a classy clutch instead and go about your day with style.
- You can coordinate a whole outfit around it - A clutch bag is fashionable enough that you can create a whole color story around it and pair it with your favorite business casual outfits.
- They are exceptionally portable - Since the clutch can be carried and hidden almost anywhere, it makes it even easier to go about your day knowing you don’t have to struggle with a handbag. Going to a quick business lunch? Grab your clutch and go. Impromptu meeting in the conference room? You’ll be in there before anyone else since all you need is your clutch, and you’re out the door.
For those of you that are wanting something with a bit more room for your personal items, we get that something as small as the clutch may not work for you.
Instead, definitely make sure you invest in a designer handbag to go along with all of your business casual outfits.
Since we are on the topic of business casual wear, we have a couple of handbag style suggestions that we think would go great with your office attire:
- Accordion handbag - Shaped like the bellows of an accordion, this uniquely designed handbag is great for slim and easy to access compartments in your handbag. Also, it just looks really classy and definitely has a timeless look.
- Bracelet handbag - Who doesn’t want to combine their bracelet accessories with their handbag? This unique handbag design is structured to have the bracelet piece attached to the bag open in a clutch-like way to receive the bag’s contents.
- Canteen bag - Shaped just like a canteen in which you drink out of, this uniquely shaped handbag’s circle shaped bag makes it easy to carry around and store all of your personal items.
- Bermuda bag - This adorable handbag is known for its wooden handle attached to its cloth-like bag. Its decorative flower embellishment makes it a very stylish look for your office wardrobe apparel.
You Can Make Your Office Look Work for You
Just because it’s the office doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and play with your business casual wardrobe.
Although the business casual guideless can seem a little strict, there is still a lot of wiggle room for you to play around with so you can cultivate your own unique and personal business casual style.
As a recap, you can definitely pull off some comfortable yet stylish looks by incorporating the following business casual staples into your wardrobe:
- The blazer - This doesn’t have to be boring, stuff, and uninspiring. With the many different cuts, colors, and patterns available, you can definitely take the blazer and make it custom to your own unique office work style.
- The tote - Not just for shopping, you can definitely take the tote with you as a designer work bag where you can store all of your nine to five workday essentials.
- The clutch - If you want something that is fashionably smaller and won’t get in the way of your workday, definitely opt for the subtle and simple clutch.
- The handbag - If you want a bag that can hold some more of your personal items and also doubles as a fashion statement, definitely seek out the handbag.
There you have it!
Now that you have this guide to fall back on, you can give your boring office clothes a much-deserved facelift, and you can walk into your new job, stylish, comfortable, and totally within the business dress code policy.
You’ll make new impressions with your updated look and great first impressions with your office-appropriate work clothes.